Emo-pop band The Juliana Theory turned their greatest hit “We’re At The Top of the World” into a black metal song for a new video, but quit it a minute in to switch to a gentle folk pop re-imagining of the track. The video features The Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist Ben Weinman as the ‘music video director’ and The Number Twelve Looks Like You vocalist Jesse Korman as the ‘metal singer.’
The new pop version of the 1999 original is set to appear on A Dream Away, the group’s first new release in 16 years. Although fans may be happy to hear about The Juliana Theory’s reunion, A Dream Away only features one brand new track called “Better Now.” The other songs are all reimagined versions of the band’s old material.
Before the switch-up, the group gives the song’s major chords a black metal guitar twist and transposes the catchy melody to screamed vocals in a pastiche of the genre. This black metal version was only recorded for the video gag and the album recording begins shortly. It’s a complete change in tone, with hand-claps, piano, wind instruments and strings. The “Sha la la la” hook is sung super clean and the emo-tinged twang of the original is replaced with something much more pop than emo.
In the video, Weinman comes in front of the camera after the black metal bit to say “Oh my God, it’s brutal! Okay, that’s it, we’re good,” and then Korman begins smiling and looking at the trees around them. Still wearing the ‘metal singer’ makeup, Korman puts on headphones and begins making snow angels as the “Sha la la la” part from the new rendition comes in.
Guitarist Joshua Fielder is happy with the re-recording. “’We’re At The Top Of The World,’ while being some people’s favorite TJT song, was always one of my least favorite songs from the band,” he states. “However, now that we recorded it for this ‘reimagined’ record, this is THE version for me. When I initially wrote the chords and bassline at home ages ago, I always envisioned this song as an ode to the Beatles. This new rendition is exactly the way I imagined it to be back in 2000. We were just too young then to truly pull it off in this way. If I could have a time machine I would go back to put this version on Emotion Is Dead.”
Frontman Brett Detar adds, “When you’re a songwriter sometimes it can take months or literal years to write a song. On those very rare and magical occasions it feels like the universe steps in to help and a song almost writes itself. When this occurs it’s usually very fast and the song is basically written before you really even know it. In my experience these are the rarest songs but they tend to be the ones that resonate the most with listeners. ‘We’re At The Top Of The World’ was one of those songs. When Josh came to band practice with the insanely catchy bass-line and guitar part for the verse the rest of the song fell into place in what felt like minutes. I remember grabbing my microphone and as a joke singing the lyrics ‘Sha la la la. Sha la la la la la la’ over the chorus. It was the first thing that came to my head and I wasn’t serious but Josh just looked at me and started laughing with that laugh of ‘oh that’s awesome’ and from then on the chorus just stuck.”
He continues, “We all grew up listening to the radio – pop and pop rock and oldies. Songs on the radio (which tend to be hit songs) were our foundation as music fans and music makers. Although we cut our teeth early on in a scene that sorta rejected anything too poppy, hook based songs were always just in our DNA. I remember getting some flack early on from diehard scenesters for releasing a song that was so unabashedly bubblegum but at the same time our fanbase grew quickly very much in response to this one song. I guess whatever it was that happened that day in my parent’s unfinished basement worked because the song ended up on tons of TV shows and movies. And I agree with my bandmate Josh that this reimagined version is my favorite recording of this song.”
According to Detar, the idea of beginning the video with a black metal tease was a way of forgetting an ideal of ‘cool’ in favor of just having fun. “Let’s talk about ‘guilty pleasures,’” He says. “I decided to banish the concept of a ‘guilty pleasure’ from my own life. Truthfully, I would always blast ‘Party In the USA’ by Miley Cyrus if it came on the radio while driving the streets of LA but now I don’t care what any ultra hip kid thinks when I roll past them as I am singing along. The joy of completely losing yourself in a song, dancing like no one is watching, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. The video for ‘We’re At The Top Of The World’ tells the ultimate story of this very abandonment. So put your hands up: they’re playing your song and the butterflies fly away.”